Category Archives: Research

Not So Random Acts of Kindness

World Kindness Day is November 13th, a global 24-hour celebration dedicated to paying-it-forward and focusing on the good

 

Ever feel impelled to give the world a big hug? We thrive on kindness. And though we frequently witness examples of callousness both in our own lives and in the news, displays of intolerance and indifference should only strengthen a desire to resist such behavior and encourage respectful relationships.

A look-out-for-yourself mentality is unnatural. We start out in life as sharers. Through their constant caregiving, the vast majority of moms and dads instill in us the capacities of empathy and generosity.

That nurturing is health-giving to children.  And it endures into adulthood.   Encouragement and kindheartedness foster wellbeing not only in recipients, but in contributors as well. Stephen Post, Director for the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University, recently quoted the Book of Proverbs when speaking before a group in Cleveland:  “A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”   Read more…

Can we do better than be happy?

Lately, I have been questioning the entrenched pursuit of happiness. I’m thinking that it’s not necessarily the target of our deepest desires, despite the current media onslaught pushing us to pursue it. Maybe the singular aim in life is something more. Let me explain.

cropped-HealthInkLogo-1.jpgI’ve written repeatedly about happiness over the years and for good reason. It has been linked to physical and mental health in many research studies.  Happy people tend to experience a better sense of well-being.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Feeling happy is generally a good thing. But what really underlies much of the quest for happiness is an intrinsic desire for recognition of our worth.  The happiness crave cannot be satiated without a reasonable understanding of one’s own value and the worth of others.

We know the drill. It’s been instilled in us from early on. Acquire that new smartphone or car, amass wealth and prestige, foster attention and notoriety, or gain intellect and scholarly success and we are told happiness will ensue.  But who has ever found that to be the case, at least in a lasting way?  Read more…

Counting Blessings versus Burdens

Thanks-living has its health rewards.

HealthInkLogo (1)The effects of thankfulness on health are measurable, according to researchers who have been studying the connection with great interest.  One example: Robert Emmons at the University of California-Davis with Michael McCullough from the University of Miami have deduced that people feel better physically and mentally when counting their blessings. Their study (Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life) was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The two psychologists open their report with a Charles Dickens quote: “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”  The researchers conducted three separate studies. “In each study, inducing a state of gratefulness through the self-guided gratitude exercises led to some emotional, physical, or interpersonal benefits,” according to their findings.

Counting our blessings instead of inventorying our troubles is sage advice that promotes added benefits.  Mary Baker Eddy once asked a thought-provoking question, “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” Read more…

The boomerang effect of being a good neighbor

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iStock photo

“Whatever blesses one blesses all…” Mary Baker Eddy shared this verity a century ago.  It’s true.  The merits of neighborliness, brotherhood and sisterhood are countless and favorably impact entire communities as well as nations. And interestingly enough, being a good neighbor affects you!

Helping neighbors has a boomerang effect that comes back to bless you too. It might seem counterintuitive, but being the giver puts you on the receiving end of good things.

Never before has loving “thy neighbor as thyself” been so intensely scrutinized. Studies linking neighborliness with good health have intensified.  Who would have guessed there are tangible health perks to living next door to those who live by the Golden Rule?

The latest research out of the University of Michigan points to a positive connection between good neighbors and good heart health.  The findings published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health measured something called neighborhood social cohesion. It turns out the better we get along with our neighbors, the less risk for heart attack.   Read more…

Nudgin curmudgeon attitudes toward better health

Yep, another ‘significant’ birthday has come and gone.  AARP has extended membership benefits to me for… well, some time now.  And while I could be considered chronologically enhanced, I don’t consider age to be the topmost descriptor of my individuality. No way!

iStock photo
iStock photo

Age is a perception thing. The sooner we drop the stubborn views of aging from our constant contemplation, the better for our health. I am thinking of deleterious assessments like mental weakness, physical feebleness, illness – and the anxieties they all perpetuate.  Must aging be repeatedly linked with these complaints?

“Perception by the five personal senses is mental,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, “and dependent on the beliefs that mortals entertain.” Believing that age must come with significant drawbacks only perpetuates those shortcomings. I guess you could say, you are what you believe.   Read more…